Thank you, Nathan, for drawing attention to this fascinating aspect
of Eliot's poetry -- his special appeal to the youngsters.
Let me try and see what strikes me most when I look at Eliot's
poetry with a schoolboy's eye -- a couple of random samples :
Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not
hope to turn
It's the repetitive turn of phrase that strikes me first
-- it's so much a part of the pop culture -- Eliot easily
Let me take another clip:
Along the reaches of the street
Held in lunar synthesis,
Whispering lunar incantations
Dissolve the floors of memory...
It's fascinating to focus on an isolated phrase -- "Twelve o'clock" --
it's so intriguing -- so inviting.
A call, maybe, that beckons the young to board the bandwagon of
a poetry unlike any one before !!!
It's elsewhere too :
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
These short, brief, crisp turns of phrase have a charismatic
power of their own -- they lend
themselves easily to
the youngster's incipient creativity -- there's the
irresistible urge to go ahead along these lines and
form one's own turns of phrase.
Eliot's poetry abounds in them -- and, contrary to the mature
academics who tend to delve into the metaphoric aspect
of their meaning in relation to a whole poem, I believe
the young are charmed by these flashes of wit.
I could go on and on, and explore Eliot's poetry along such lines
see how he fits in with the young.
And if you encourage me, I might keep sharing my
speculations. And before I close, here's a colloquial,
everyday speech that more often than not finds expression
in Eliot's poetry: "Are these ideas right or wrong ?"
It's the poetic possibilities of the spoken word that engaged
Eliot's attention -- and it's this that endears him to pop
culture. Just maybe !
Nathan, Eliot has been an influence on contemporary language-centered poetry, although not so much as
Pound or Williams or Stein. In his use of found speech fragments in The Waste Land he created polyphony
or multiplicity of voices that goes beyond the univocal Romantic lyric in a manner that can be called Post-
modern. He also foregrounded individual words and phrases to a greater extent than earlier poetry did.
His poetry provides new models for poets searching for alternatives to forms of narrative and lyric associated with
Romanticism. He may be a dead white guy, but his ghost still haunts poetry!
> Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2007 10:32:08 -0400
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> Subject: Re: Query: Eliot in Pop Culture
> To: [log in to unmask]
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> Um, though - he's not any more "relevant" now than when he first wrote or in the 1960s or any other time, in a way differs from poetry in general. LOL.
> Correction/ amendment:
> Iím not attempting to prove Eliot any more relevant to modern culture than he was in his own time, but rather that he does not fit into the "old-dead-whit-guy" category that seems to have been applied to him. Thatís probably not an opinion held by anyone on this list, but it is fairly common place among high school students and teachers. Applying "relevance" in this case is not intended to prove him more significant than at his zenith, but to work upwards from a diminished conception.
> Also, it was the Crash Test Dummies song that got me started on
the pop culture reference thing. I heard it on NPR one day about 3 years ago. Wikipedia has on their T. S. Eliot page a fairly extensive list of references in songs and other mediaÖ though some are quite shakyÖ the ones Iíve been getting back today are much more concrete.
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